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Attributive and predicative adjectives

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Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby jeidsath » Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:21 pm

From Mimnermos:

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς Ἀφροδίτης;
τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι,
κρυπταδίη φιλότης καὶ μείλιχα δῶρα καὶ εὐνή·
οἷ’ ἥβης ἄνθεα γίγνεται ἁρπαλέα
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξίν· ἐπεὶ δ’ ὀδυνηρὸν ἐπέλθῃ
γῆρας, ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ καλὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,
αἰεί μιν φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι,
οὐδ’ αὐγὰς προσορῶν τέρπεται ἠελίου,
ἀλλ’ ἐχθρὸς μὲν παισίν, ἀτίμαστος δὲ γυναιξίν·
οὕτως ἀργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός.


I asked Paul if he would let me use an email that he wrote for a Textkit post:

Paul Derouda wrote:Joel, you should pay more attention to whether adjectives are predicative or attributive. ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ καλὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ ”which makes even a handsome man ugly” (not ”sets together both the ugly man and the beautiful”)...Similarly, οὕτως ἀργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός ”in such a manner did the divine/God make old age troublesome (not ”in such a manner does God lay on troublesome age”).


I think that there is something that I don't understand about attributive and predicative adjectives here. I assume that Mimnermos is equivalent to Homeric Greek where you don't have articles to tell you everything. Reading through the LSJ examples for τίθημι, I'd expect "to make a man ugly" to be:

θεῖναι ἄνδρα αἰσχρόν

And similarly, to make old age troublesome:

θεῖναι γῆρας ἀργαλέον

So in the Mimnermos poem, this seems reversed.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby mwh » Sun Apr 30, 2017 3:10 pm

You can't go by the word order, you have to go by the context.

αισχρον και καλον ανδρα τιθει(=τίθησιν), “It makes even(και) a beautiful man ugly”: καλον attributive with ανδρα (a beautiful man), αισχρον predicative (it makes him ugly). αισχρον could stand after ανδρα or after τιθει and it would still mean the same. (Even in English, with its far less flexible word order, we could say "It makes ugly even a beautiful man.")

Take the other adjectives in the poem.
τερπνον is predicative, “What (is) delightful?” In other context it could be attributive (“What delightful thing …?”).
κρυπταδιη is attributive, “clandestine lovemaking.” In other context it could be predicative (“Lovemaking is clandestine”).
μειλιχα attributive.
αρπαλεα predicative.
οδυνηρον presumably (not necessarily) attributive.
κακαι ditto.
εχθρος and ατιμαστος predicative.
αργαλεον predicative (“So hard did God made old age”). It could be taken as attributive (“Thus did God make hard old age), which is how you took it, but less well.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby jeidsath » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:37 pm

I think I see. Here, since τίθημι generally takes a predicate along with it's object, the predicate understanding most naturally presents itself to the mind.

What is ὁμῶς doing though? Wouldn't it normally go with the καὶ, meaning "both" or "both alike" instead of "even"?
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby mwh » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:43 pm

Well yes. That's the main reason I think we should read not καλον but kακον, both adjectives predicative.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby jeidsath » Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:08 pm

That makes sense:

ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ
"which makes a man both ugly and wretched"

Also:

ὅ αἰσχρὸν καὶ καλὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ
"which makes even a beautiful man ugly"

But I feel like the text as written might fit with this semi-intransitive usage in the LSJ article on τίθημι:

C. without any attributive word following, make, work, execute, of an artist, ἐν δ’ ἐτίθει νειόν Il.18.541, cf. 550,561,607; [δόρπον] θησέμεναι Od.20.394.


ὅ τ’ αἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ καλὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,
"which works [transforms] both an ugly and a beautiful man"
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby Hylander » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:05 pm

But I feel like the text as written might fit with this semi-intransitive usage in the LSJ article on τίθημι:
C. without any attributive word following, make, work, execute, of an artist, ἐν δ’ ἐτίθει νειόν Il.18.541, cf. 550,561,607; [δόρπον] θησέμεναι Od.20.394.



That would translate: "which makes/fashions both an ugly and a handsome man".

Clearly:

B. put in a certain state or condition, much the same as ποιεῖν, ποιεῖσθαι, and so often to be rendered by our make:
* * *
2. with an Adj. for the attributive, θεῖναί τινα ἀθάνατον καὶ ἀγήρων make him undying and undecaying, Od.5.136; πηρόν, τυφλόν, ἀφνειὸν τ. τινά, Il.2.599, 6.139, 9.483; “τὸν μὲν . . θῆκε μείζονά τ᾽ εἰσιδέειν καὶ πάσσονα” Od.6.229, cf. 18.195, Pl.Prt.344d.


The Mimnermus line has at least one predicative adjective (two if you accept Hermann's conjecture which mwh perfers), so it doesn't fit the definition you quoted. LSJ call this "attributive" but they're using the term in the sense of what we're calling a "predicative adjective."

I think it's fair to say "transforms" is impossible. You would expect a compound with μετα-. μετατίθημι, however, although it can mean "change", doesn't seem to be used of persons.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=LSJ+metati%2Fqhmi&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057
Last edited by Hylander on Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby mwh » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:11 pm

That’s from the description of Hephaestus decorating Achilles’ replacement shield: “He put on it a fresh-plowed field.” ετιθει is not “semi-transitive” (whatever would that be?) but simply transitive. Doesn’t fit here at all.

(LSJ is there using “attributive” in a more general sense, not as distinct from predicative. νειον is given no attribute, it’s just a plain direct object. Unlike ανδρα here.)

τιθημι can mean "make" something something, as in "Make America great again"—that's what we have in Mimnermus—or "put" something somewhere, as in the Homeric passage.

EDIT. Crossed with Hylander.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby Hylander » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:23 pm

Interesting detail of scansion: ἄνθεα . . . ἁρπαλέα

εα scanned as one syllable and as two syllables in the same line. Both are of course possibilities. Does the acute accent of ἁρπαλέα influence this? Or is it just the exigencies of the meter?
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby mwh » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:03 pm

They’re not on the same morphological footing. ανθεα, plural of ανθος, could equally well be written ανθη, but αρπαλεα, neut.pl. of adjective αρπαλεος, you wouldn’t expect to contract except under exceptional metrical exigency, or in Attic or koine (to which the word is alien). Cf. e.g. αργαλέος, αργύρεος, χρύσεος. I don’t think the accent is a factor.
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Re: Attributive and predicative adjectives

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed May 02, 2018 3:30 pm

I was reading something this morning that I knew reminded me of some recent Textkit topic, and it was this one.

To msw and others' point that context more than word order determines whether an adjective should be interpreted as attributive or predicate, consider this fragment from Xenophanes of Colophon, quoted by Clement of Alexander:
εἷς θεὸς ἐν τε θεοῖσι καὶ ἀνθρώποισι μέγιστος
οὔτι δέμας θνητοῖσιν ὁμοίϊος οὔτε νόημα

J.H. Lesher, the editor of the Phoenix edition of Xenophanes that I am using, states that it is "notoriously uncertain" whether εἷς is a predicate or an attribute (μέγιστος and ὁμοίϊος are predicate). Both have been argued for and translated accordingly. But the arguments are not based upon the specific context of the quote, which we don't know (I don't mean the context in Clement, but the context in the missing surrounding verse of Xenophanes), but upon a broader interpretation of the thought of Xenophanes.

(In interpreting/translating the fragment, be careful to note that οὔτι at the start of the second line is an adverbial form of οὔτις. My eyes at first deceived me into thinking it was οὔτε.
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